Will Smith posts emotional apology for the slap: ‘I am deeply remorseful’

Actor releases video answering questions about the incident at this year’s Oscars where he slapped Chris Rock onstage

Will Smith has posted an emotional video to his social channels expressing remorse over the Oscars slap.

The 53-year-old actor caused controversy at this year’s ceremony after he slapped Chris Rock onstage after a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and her appearance. Smith released a statement on Instagram to apologise but has been silent since.

The almost six-minute video, uploaded on his YouTube channel and Instagram page, shows Smith answering questions that have circulated since, starting with why he didn’t apologise to Rock in his acceptance speech.

“It’s all fuzzy,” Smith said. “I’ve reached out to Chris and the message that came back is that he’s not ready to talk and when he is, he will reach out so I will say to you Chris, I apologise to you. My behaviour was unacceptable and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.”

He then takes the opportunity to apologise to Rock’s mother. “One of the things about that moment, I just didn’t realise, I wasn’t thinking, but how many people got hurt in that moment,” he said. He then said that the damage to his friendship with Rock’s brother Tony is “probably irreparable”.

He goes on to say that he has spent the last three months “replaying and understanding the nuances and the complexities of what happened in that moment” and while he says he won’t unpack all of that now, he says that there is no part of him that thinks it was “the right way to behave”.

Smith also set the record straight on whether Jada had any involvement in suggesting he should do something. “It’s like, you know, I made a choice on my own from my own experiences, from my history with Chris,” he said. “Jada had nothing to do with it.”

He then apologised to both her and his family for “the heat” that he brought on them all.

“It really breaks my heart to have stolen and have tarnished your moment,” he then says to the other nominees and winners that night. “I’m sorry really isn’t sufficient.”

When asked about what he would say to those who had previously looked up to him but felt let down by his behaviour he said that “disappointing people” is his central trauma. “I hate when I let people down,” he said. “So it hurts. It hurts me psychologically and emotionally to know that I didn’t live up to people’s image and impression of me. The work I’m trying to do is that I’m deeply remorseful and I’m trying to be remorseful without being ashamed of myself. I’m human. I made a mistake and I’m trying not to think of myself as a piece of shit.”

The video arrives after Rock also addressed the incident in a live comedy event in New York last week. “Anyone who says ‘words hurt’ has never been punched in the face,” he said. Rock also stressed that he is “not a victim” and said he wouldn’t “go to the hospital for a paper cut”.

After the slap, Smith resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and was given a 10-year ban for “unacceptable and harmful behavior”. Smith’s next film, the slavery thriller Emancipation, has reportedly been receiving enthusiastic test screenings and is seen as a potential awards contender for Apple TV+.


Benjamin Lee

The GuardianTramp

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